March 20 (AdaDerana) – Great importance was given to the African continent in the Presidential announcement on the 75th anniversary of independence where President Ranil Wickremesinghe met with the envoys from the African region. The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 3rd February 2023 at the Presidential Secretariat.
To coincide with the momentous occasion Mr. Ranjiv Goonawardena, Chairman of International Consultants is sponsoring a major export-orientated webinar conference in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Export Development Board and the Sri Lanka High Commission in Pretoria.
The webinar conference titled “Gateway to Africa” will be a series of events and the inaugural session will be deliberating on “Doing Business in Mozambique” starting on the 28th of March 2023 at 1.30 pm Colombo time. The inaugural webinar conference to focus on the key sectors from Sri Lanka comprising the Power and Energy, Civil Construction, Engineering services and Telecommunication sectors.
At the pre-launch event on the 10th of March, Mr. Ranjiv Goonawardena stated Sri Lanka has a competitive edge compared to its rivals from the Western Hemisphere. Due to the cost of labour being far less in comparison to its counterparties. The quality of work is of international standing or even better than their competitors.
African countries have signed the African Union Free Trade Agreement. African free trade agreement comprising three protocols which pertain to Trade in Goods, Trade in Services; Rules, and Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes. The deal creates a continent-wide market embracing 54 countries with 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of US$3.4 trillion. In time to come, which will create a single market similar to the internal market of the European Union where goods and services can be imported and exported without any tariffs plus duty free.
Under the African Union Free Trade Agreement manufactured goods and services will not incur duties and tariffs. When goods are transported from one African country to another for instance, if goods are transported from Cairo, Egypt to Johannesburg, South Africa may that be by air, sea or overland there are no customs duties to be paid. This is a great opportunity for some of the companies in Sri Lanka to take full advantage of exporting the goods and services.
Another crucial component is that the majority of the African countries are deemed as least developed economies under the UN description; thereby being eligible for trade preferences, development financing, including official development assistance, debt relief, technical assistance and other forms of support. Which means that they have free access to the European and the American market duty free indicating Sri Lankan companies could even manufacture goods in the African continent creating three accessible markets. The African free trade agreement areas can be a tremendous opportunity
With the overwhelming, current economic crisis in Sri Lanka, most companies and corporations will not have access to the liquidity of capital but that’s not the case in the African context. Why, because there is funding for all sorts of projects, may that be from the European Union which has pledged 150 billion euros ($170 billion) for investment in Africa as it seeks to gain influence on the continent and become its partner of choice. America has pledged $55 billion in economic, health and security support for Africa over the next three years.
International consultants can access this type of funding for projects in the African continent. As we have been liaising extensively for several years on different projects and have a working relationship with financial providers.
This event will provide a great opportunity for Sri Lankan companies and corporations to look at the alternative African market. This is a way Sri Lanka can export itself out of the current economic crisis which has beset the island.
A vote of appreciation has to be accorded to the Sri Lankan High Commission in South Africa in conjunction with Sri Lanka Export Development Board, being the technology partner in hosting the event.